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While the cut level decreased announced by BC's Chief Forester earlier this month for the Merritt Timber Supply Area was reduced by 400,000 cubic meters to 2.4 cubic meters, it still allows for a new pest.

Chief Forester Jim Snetsinger says the pine beetle isn't the concern it once was, but spruce trees are now under attack.

Snetsinger says there have been pine beetles that have attacked and killed the spruce tree, but adds it's very minimal.

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While the City of Merritt works to decide what level of tourism it wants to strive to attain, they will also have keep an eye on the budget.

Mayor Susan Roline says the City has been working with Economic Development and tourism monies together, but it looks like that is going to change.

Mayor Roline says there's still lots of work to do.

She describes it as another baby step with more meetings to take place before a decision on the direction of tourism in the City is decided.

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Winter driving continues to take it's toll on the Coquihalla Highway with several accidents again over the weekend.

Bob Gilowski of VSA Highway Maintenance stresses the need for transport drivers to chain up.

Fortunately, none of the many accidents over the weekend resulted in any life threatening injuries.

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December is Counter Attack Season for the RCMP in Merritt.  Constable Tracy Dunsmore of the Merritt RCMP says extra road checks are going to be up in the area through the Christmas and New Years period.

Dunsmore says under the criminal code the allowable blood alcohol limit allowable is still .08 and with roadside screening devices it's always been .05 for a 24-hour suspension.

Dunsmore says .08 is still the legal limit for driving.

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The allowable annual cut for the Merritt Timber Supply Area has been reduced by 400,000 cubic metres to to 2.4 million.  BC's Chief Forester, Jim Snetsinger, says this still includes a substantial uplift in the Merritt TSA.

Snetsinger says the District and the Region are working on how the 400,000 cubic metres will be done.

Snetsinger adds the recent colder winter and pine beetle infested tree removal conducted by Tom Lacey are just two reasons for this year's assessment.

Snetsinger says the pine beetle has reached it's peak in BC.  He says it'll continue to kill pine trees, but not at the rate it has.  He says the future for BC's forest industry in the Merritt TSA is bright.

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